Beautiful, spirited, athletic, determined, compassionate and a joy to be around – all these are words one would use to describe Zakya. She also happens to be an amputee, but in no way does she consider herself disabled. Parasailing, surfing, horseback riding, skiing, and running are just a few of the activities Zakya participates in. “Last year I went sky diving – that was one of the craziest things and the best experience of my life!,” she remembers. “Living in California, we are blessed with many beautiful hiking spots, so I especially enjoy hiking and taking pictures of nature. I usually do Spin classes twice a week and boot camp at the gym as part of my fitness routine.” Zakya’s come a long way since November 18, 1988 – the day her life’s path was suddenly changed.
In 1988, Zakya was a young girl living in Afghanistan, which was occupied by Russia at that time. While walking home after school one day, a rocket exploded nearby, severely injuring her left leg. Zakya’s left foot was also injured in the blast, but the doctors focused on the more severe injury above her knee and neglected to treat the wound on her foot. “Since it was war time, doctors were busy and overwhelmed with the amount of patients they were seeing,” Zakya explains. As a result of not receiving timely medical treatment, she eventually lost her leg below the knee due to gangrene which started in her injured foot.
About two years after she was injured, August 1990, Zakya’s father concluded it was not safe to remain in Afghanistan and arranged for her family to escape to India. That was in August of 1990, and Zakya lived in India with her family for the next seven years. One day she happened to see a movie about a dancer who had lost her leg in a car accident. A prosthetic company in Jaipur, India used aluminum and a used tire to make the dancer a special foot for dancing. “I want that leg!,” Zakya told her father, and he whisked her off to Jaipur where she was fit with her own dancing leg! Although it was an upgrade from her old wooden socket and foot, because the prosthesis was made of aluminum it did not hold up to the rigors of her everyday life and her prosthetic issues continued.
Zakya’s family wanted her to have access to better prosthetic technology and care, so when her aunt from the U.S. visited in 1996, they decided to request a visa which would allow Zakya to return to the U.S. with her aunt and live with her there. The visa was granted and Zakya moved to Simi Valley, California, where she lived with her aunt for five years before moving to her current home in Thousand Oaks. In those five years, she learned to speak English and finished her schooling.
Working as an optician for almost ten years, Zakya now lives a very full and active life. “When I moved to Thousand Oaks in 2002,” Zakya says with a smile, “that’s when my fun life began! I came out of my shell, started going out dancing, making friends and dating. Three years ago I attended a Tony Robbins Seminar; it was a life-changing experience for me. There were about 2000 of us in attendance and he encouraged us to walk on fire! The idea was, if you can walk on fire without burning your feet you can do anything! The experience was very empowering.
I met Bonnie Jones of SCP through a mutual friend. I love the office environment and everyone there! I have met so many wonderful people through SCP, including my good friend Corey Reed. When he is not busy snowboarding, we go to spin class and hike together.
I love my prosthesis; it feels like it is a part of me instead of just hanging off me. For the first time ever, I’ve decided not to hide it with a foam cover. I love the look of the carbon fiber and want to show off my leg. Recently, I completed an eight mile hike and had absolutely no socket issues! This is definitely the best prosthesis I have ever had, and I am very thankful to SCP for helping me and making my life so much easier.”
What will Zakya do next? “I’m going to try rock climbing,” she says. “I’m really excited about it!”